Katz now Independent

Could former Republican mayoral candidate Sam Katz be planning a run for the office as an independent this fall?

Katz recently changed his voter registration from Republican to Independent, preserving that possibility under the state election code.

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Sam Katz: Is former mayoral candidate setting up a run?

"I wouldn't read too much into it," Katz said of the registration change in a brief telephone interview yesterday, declining to discuss the subject further.

There's been speculation recently that a victory by businessman Tom Knox in the May 15 Democratic mayoral primary would leave many Democrats looking for an alternative, opening the door for a viable independent candidacy.

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Should Sam Katz run for Phila. mayor?

The state election code prohibits someone from running as an independent in the general election if he or she is registered as a member of a party 30 days before the primary or later.

Though he changed his registration in time to preserve that possibility, a source close to Katz said it's highly unlikely he would run this year.

Katz was the Republican candidate for mayor in 1999 and 2003, and lost the Republican primary for mayor in 1991. He's now engaged in a variety of business ventures and works with a New York-based investment company called X Shares Securities.

It's unclear whether any prominent Democrats might defect in the event of a win by Knox, whose self-funded campaign is virtually without party support.

Party chairman and mayoral candidate U.S. Rep. Bob Brady has promised to support the Democratic nominee, even if it's Knox.

Knox has denounced "smoke-filled back room, big-boss party politics," a reference to Brady.

Republican mayoral candidate Al Taubenberger, short on name recognition and financial support, is considered a longshot to mount a credible candidacy.

If a prominent Democrat or Republican were to convince Taubenberger and GOP leaders that he or she would have a better chance, Taubenberger could withdraw and allow the party to name a new candidate. As an independent, Katz would be legally eligible to be the GOP nominee. *